Following recent outbreak of diphtheria in the country, UNICEF Nigeria has called for nationwide vaccination of children. So far, more than11,500 cases have been reported, even as 453 children aged between 4 to15 years have been confirmed as victims.
UNICEF is providing support to the government to combat the outbreak especially in the procurement of vaccines. Following this, the agency has donated 9.3 million doses of diphtheria vaccines to Kano, Bauchi, Borno, Yobe, Katsina, Kaduna and Jigawa states.
Furthermore,4 million doses have been sent to Kano, which is epicentre of the outbreak, even as another 4 million vaccines will be procured for onward transmission to the federal government.
According to UNICEF Representative Dr Rownak Khan: “The devastating impact of this diphtheria outbreak is a grim reminder of the importance of vaccination. Nigeria is home to 2.2 million children who haven’t received even a single dose of vaccine, the second largest such cohort in the world. We must collectively take urgent actions to drastically reduce this number. Every child deserves protection from preventable diseases. This is not negotiable.”
UNICEF Nigeria calls on partners, stakeholders, and the international community to rally together and ensure that every child in Nigeria is reached with life-saving vaccines. The children’s agency emphasises the importance of strengthening routine immunisation, community engagement, and health systems to avoid similar outbreaks in the future.
To respond effectively to the outbreak, UNICEF Nigeria needs to raise additional US$ 3.3 million until end of the year.